Five Oaks Press is a micropress publishing poetry chapbooks and full-length collections, as well as literary fiction (coming soon!). We are an imprint of Foiled Crown Books, LLC.
Please like us on Facebook for updates. We nominate for the Pushcart Prize and any other awards we can find for our authors.
The latest poetry collection by the author of the Lew Griffin mystery series!
James Sallis’ latest poetry collection is a study in gothic noir where post-war trauma surfaces in a speaker’s haunted relationship with time and space, where the familiar is strange, and the strange is familiar.
In Night’s Pardons, Sallis writes of the “terror of the ordinary,” the things that keep us up at night, that populate the darkness waiting for an absolution we cannot muster, from which we can find no peace except in the language of poetry itself.
Winner of the 2015 “Say Elves” Poetry Contest!
Elizabeth Tornes’ Between the Dog and the Wolf celebrates the richness of life’s twilight spaces: the transition space of August between summer and fall; roadsides, where the travel paths of humans intersect with those of animals; varied terrain—from yurt to creek— and the diversity of earth’s bounty.
Her poems reflect on the process of language itself, as the Ojibwe language blends with a secret language of the natural world. In this reverential way, Tornes turns the skill of her poetic eye on the contemporary life of Native Americans in northern Wisconsin. She takes us to pow wows, shows us boarding school beatings, honors the Ancestors. As refreshing as an unexpected summer rain, Between the Dog and the Wolf lets us into a world where people are predominantly good to one another, recognizing the divine in each living thing. And it’s this sanctity of life that allows her poems not only only to speak, but also to listen. Just like Dickinson’s famous line about the slant of light in late afternoon when “the landscape listens,/ Shadows hold their breath,” these pages are the meeting place between this world and the next.
Throughout The Route to Cacharel, Nickel poses a central question: “the dead speak if we listen, but how do we hear them in the cackling of the modern world?” The answer is found in the particulars of the natural world. Spiritual yet visceral, these powerful poems offer comfort: “There is someone whispering over a candle perhaps for you too.” If as Nickel observes, “in the end, we are measured by our generosity,” this magnificent collection lights not just one but a multitude of candles to guide us in the dark.
~Vivian Shipley, author of The Poet and Perennial
Like one of its characters, The Route to Cacharel balances “the knowing with the longing.” Here is history and yearning amid the vividly rendered but insufficient pleasures of the present. “We are unable to resign ourselves to the end / Of what we love”—yes. These ambitious poems offer things to savor, things to grieve, and much, much to ponder.
~Ron Smith, Poet Laureate of Virginia and author of Its Ghostly Workshop, Moon Road, and Running Again in Hollywood Cemetery
Michael Tugendhat’s poetic oeuvre is about the limits of the human body that place us into contact with the world, with other sufferers. What I’m Afraid to Show You shows us hidden wounds and the parts of our pathologies that hide in plain sight. It brings together two contradictory ideas: that the gaps and spaces of the body that can be cleansed are also those that can be contaminated, and that both processes entail an ache: “pure / all that impurity washed away / like ice cold water through / a missing tooth.” Central to this ache is the desire for the gaze. Tugendhat’s poems become window panes through which we watch ourselves watching—where looking becomes part of a shared documentary experience, and how fragmented and fused the language must be that records the watching.
Food is an important vehicle in What I’m Afraid to Show You; it is through the common act of consumption that the self can stand to be with other bodies as mortally frail as one’s own.
In this collection, Tugendhat crafts a poetic memento mori that helps us mourn those things whose value we couldn’t sense until their moment had passed.
The Last Pub on Earth resurrects Peter Murphy’s alter-ego, Garry Morgan, a persona he adopted and abandoned decades earlier while living as an undocumented worker in Wales. Part Prufrock, part Pinocchio, Garry Morgan is ridiculed, pitied, and comforted before finally laid to rest. These poems conjure the fragmented postmodern identity and raise questions about what we owe to a self we’ve invented, outgrown, and left behind. This freewheeling reverie reimagines life before the ground-zero of Murphy’s recovery from alcohol addiction, a journey whose first step was taken on the feast day of St. Govan, whose chapel is depicted on the front cover.
In Faithful as the Ground, Shawnte Orion turns the domestic into the carnivalesque. He gives us the dust mites and bed bugs of the human condition that add up like the sodium in a bag of pretzels, the guilt in a conversation with mom, and the five hours of energy promised up by a 5-hour energy drink. Sleepless nights turn into contemplations of mortality in this memory-driven collection, whose final message is that the detritus lying in the nooks and crannies of our homes tells us who we are and how we got that way.
The back cover of this book also contains a highly unique blurb done by Charles Jensen (author of The Nanopedia Quick-Reference Pocket Lexicon of Contemporary American Culture: MiPOESIAS, 2012) in the form of emojis.
As if guided by William Matthew’s “Love needs to be set alight again and again,” Pat Mottola’s physical and memorable poems cause us to remember people who might otherwise be forgotten. By describing women who wear red fish net stockings and men who buy them drinks, she reclaims ordinary lives by showing how people are all looking for some form of human contact. Particularly moving are poems about her mother who never “caught up to Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan” and her father who fought in WWII and “could not escape the stench of Auschwitz.” Throughout Under the Red Dress, Mottola’s love of her subjects darts in and out, slippery as the fish caught by her fishmonger, a Vietnam vet with PTSD. Pat Mottola’s poems will help keep the human fire alive as long as there is breath to sustain it because of her hard won knowledge that what will endure is the human heart and that love’s power can redeem even those returning from war in jungles and labeled “damaged goods.”
~Vivian Shipley, author of The Poet and Perennial
In J.R. Solonche’s short collection of poems centered around his experience of a heart-attack and subsequent recovery, we find a turning inward to the experience of consciousness as its existence is threatened by the failures of the body. He broaches dying with a matter-of-factness, as one of many wounds to his sense of self. The poems in Heart’s Content are meditations on perspective as mediated by the body’s senses. They confront, in sometimes playful style, the mind-body split that undergirds Western culture from at least the time of Descartes’s slogan “I think therefore I am.” Through a radically fresh understanding of his own mortality, Solonche radiates hope in equal parts with regret. He does not go gently into an old age of austerity and physical deprivation brought on by doctor’s counsel about how to live in the wake of a heart-attack. The loneliness and solitude of cold, white hospital spaces is tempered with hopeful images of the afterlife as “a long nap out of doors / some afternoon at the very end of summer, / the first Sunday of September say, perhaps / in the outsized hammock slung between/ the two black birch trees out back.” Heart’s Content is a memento mori grounded in the arteries and organs, the movement of the body’s blood. It is the reflective voice of the poet as he makes ready for the grave. But not yet. Above all, in Heart’s Content J.R. Solonche reminds us to live.
Winner of our 2015 “Our Wish For Blue” Summer Contest!
David Kann’s farm-language is not—emphatically not—the language of pastoral ease or a return to Eden. Kann writes a poetry of witness too engaged with the incarnate body for that; “each word icy-bright and sharp as a knife / that peels flesh from bone” is more like it. The nine memory-poems of this chapbook are soaked with the present-tense blood of animals, smeared with their dung and offal, rooted in sticky earth by a harrowingly accurate language that shapes remembered experience into the sublimity of the absolute. These are strong, meaty poems that recall “matters / of taking life and planting seed,” reminding us that life and death are never as separable as we would wish. ~James Cushing
As if descendants of Robert Frost, Theodore Roethke, and James Dickey, David Kann’s poems live in a flesh-and-bloodspurting agrarian domain. His gut-tightening edge-of-your-seat narratives take us into fields of crop and animal, into the actual viscera of dying creatures, before we literally come up for air amid mortal questions. He knows that in our technological century we must ask ourselves about the way we balance civilized conscience against primitive impulse. With orphic rhythms, can’t-look-away imagery, and relentless philosophic adventure, The Language of the Farm entertains while demanding that we recognize ourselves as kin to the world we both husband and devour. ~Kevin Clark
David Kann’s The Language of the Farm is really the strange and powerful language of memory and of childhood as much as it is of place and the mystery of place. It is only with a writer like Kann that we can experience so much, a whole world, within so few pages. The publication of this collection is a celebration and I am thrilled to raise a glass to it. ~Matthew Dickman
To enter Julie Hensley’s Viable is not to step but to plunge… With Hensley’s guide, we travel through deftly rendered landscapes of the Great Plains and the rural South. We study the language of horses and historical figures. We probe marriage, miscarriage, childbirth, and child-rearing, “the things people plant to anchor themselves/ beneath so much sky.” We hear our own fears and wants echoing back to us from the deeply human center of this book. —Julie Marie Wade, author of Postage Due: Poems & Prose Poems and When I Was Straight: Poems
In the rich and vivid poems of Viable, Julie Hensley rings the changes of a girl child’s life, from riding stick-horses in her yard in Big Stone Gap to sexual discovery after sixteen summers, to homesickness in her first apartment, then to love, marriage and, motherhood. The path may be familiar, but none of it is simple, and there are sharp turns of grief and reckoning along the way. Rooted in the natural world—mountain, desert, prairie, seashore—and seeing herself as a creature among creatures, Hensley offers us words of life in all its uncertainty, knowing that “Creation is still a gift/ a yolk bobbing uncertainly/ inside a fragile shell.” —George Ella Lyon (Kentucky Poet Laureate 2015-2016), Many-Storied House
The Forest of the Suburbs occupies that liminal place where the housing development meets the prairie, where a coyote might appear on the planned streets among the numbered houses. . . Molly Kugel Merkner writes with a truth-telling lyric insistence, with the natural eye of Marianne Moore and the quiet wisdom of Elizabeth Bishop. She not only challenges our detachment and indifference, but carries us forward, breath by breath, poem by poem, line by line to some place simultaneously beautiful and painful and always transformative. It is oddly reassuring to discover these poems—to know that someone with this type of vision and ability is out there and paying this type of attention. ~Eliot Khalil Wilson, The Saint of Letting Small Fish Go and This Island of Dogs
The Forest of the Suburbs paints loss as a mammalian language, speaking on behalf of those already disappeared. Human encroachment on the wild and the brutality of domestication rivets the reader. Death sounds like the cracking of husks and shells, and smells like soil, as angels take the form of buffalo; a mother with wind in her arms resembles a spider plant, and a son plans to become pelican, “grow a throat pouch, / pale plumage, and fly in a “U” shape.” All the while, whales return to the same spot off the coast of Northern Vancouver Island to mourn, and bears sway their heads back and forth, hoping to catch a scent of what they can’t see: the tenderness of Kugel Merkner’s delivery. ~Spring Ulmer, The Age of Virtual Reproduction and Benjamin’s Spectacles
Winner of our 2015 “Spring is the Mischief” Contest
The poems in Well Enough to Travel are lashed together with lyrical lines that seethe, pulse, rise, and descend through love and loss, disappointment and desperation. To travel is not to wander or explore, but rather to search for one’s self—to choose to die and be renewed, Ophelia resurrected.
In her second chapbook of poems, Jia Oak Baker constructs well-wrought images with emotional resonance, sometimes surreal, to give insight into how relationships deteriorate—how the whale mouth of expectation swallows us whole, how we all drown there, and how we save ourselves afterwards.
In these poems, Kyle Laws excavates the Western landscape to reveal the effects of the atomic bomb. Here is the Trinity site. Here are poems about the pictures taken of the blast, testing the bomb that would go on to be dropped on Nagasaki. Here are those vast deserts of the early- and mid-twentieth century with the personalities who populated them: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Georgia O’Keefe, Zane Grey, and John Wayne. Laws’ poems explode on the page; one even plays with form to mimic the atomic reaction of nuclear energy, words whipping up energy as they are scattered across pages. Kyle Laws’ So Bright to Blind also chronicles what we lose as a society when our frames of reference are too narrow, and, when this is the case, the preserving role of art as witness and as a reason to keep living despite the ravages of our “science” to the earth and human bodies. She juxtaposes American efforts to achieve civilization through technology, food, and art with our atomic bomb design, whose “firing mechanism was only / an elaborate gun.” In doing so, Laws catalogues a raw episode in American history when, in the name of progress, our Western “shoot-em-up” attitude finally went too far.
Having spent the last few years as Poet Laureate of her city and co-editor of a print and online hybrid poetry journal, Sarah Sadie returns here to the familiar ground of the lyric, but with a difference. These poems split their attention between the world that awaits us each morning and the act of writing itself, asking What are we doing in this world? What are we doing in this poem? When are those questions the same?